Family Affair: The Texas Tenors to Help Raise Funds for Springfield Youth Symphony
Pleasant Hope natives JC Fisher and Carla Wooton are brother and sister. He claims she was always the musical one in the family, while playing ball was his thing. But they both now enjoy thriving musical careers: Wooton is the Assistant Director of the Springfield Youth Symphony, an audition-only orchestra of 65 young musicians sponsored by Springfield Public Schools. Fisher is founder of the group “The Texas Tenors,” who achieved national fame on NBC-TV’s America’s Got Talent and used that as a springboard to an international performing career, including being named the Number Ten Classical Artists in the World by Billboard Magazine. Fisher and his partners John Hagen and Marcus Collins will perform with the Springfield Youth Symphony as a fundraiser for the orchestra Saturday afternoon May 13 at 3:00pm at the Gillioz Theatre, 325 Park Central East.
Says JC Fisher, “I went to what was SMSU at the time from 1992-95, and I worked at the Boys and Girls Club on Boonville. And I was really busy here in town doing singing telegrams at Balloony Tunes.” He discovered he had a singing voice while in college, and studied under Dr. Rose Mary Owens at MSU, as well as participating in Dr. Guy Webb’s Concert Chorale. Fisher then transferred to Wichita State University’s highly regarded vocal-music program and received his vocal music degree there.
“After that I moved to Texas and worked on cruise ships, and went to about 84 countries over the next ten years.” He then put his own solo show together. While entertaining on a Celebrity Cruise Lines ship, Fisher met Marcus Collins in 2000, and the two became fast friends, keeping in touch as they each pursued solo careers... in between various day jobs. Ditto with John Hagen, who was in business with another opera singer re-habbing homes in between performing gigs. Fisher says, “I was tiling a floor one day, and we had the Three Tenors (aka Pavarotti/Carreras/Domingo) or Caruso playing, and he started singing along—and I was like, ‘Wow! I have to sing with this guy!’” That’s when Fisher hatched the idea of “The Texas Tenors,” and submitted an application and audition tape to the producers of NBC-TV’s America’s Got Talent. The trio has since accumulated a long list of awards, accolades and fans around the world. Their concerts are described as “a unique blend of country, classical, Broadway and current pop music, with breathtaking vocals, humor and a touch of cowboy charm.” Or as JC Fisher describes it, “In our show it’s fun because I get to sing some country music, some classical, some Broadway, some gospel. It’s great.” He admits the name “Texas Tenors” confuses some people in terms of what kind of show they present. But, he says, “100 percent of the people come out and say, ‘We were totally surprised by what we saw.’ It’s very entertaining: it’s audience participation, there are video elements, there’s drama, there’s laughter, there’s everything you’d want in a concert.”
JC Fisher has worked with his sister Carla Wooten before: she put together the orchestra and choir for The Texas Tenors’ upcoming PBS-TV special, scheduled for broadcast the second week of August. (Their first PBS special garnered three Emmy awards.) This concert with the Springfield Youth Symphony will, in fact, be a sneak preview for local audiences of the Tenors’ new PBS show. And as a fundraiser for the Youth Symphony program, Fisher feels it’s an ideal way to give back to the local community.
Carla Wooton has been affiliated with the Springfield Youth Symphony since 2007. It’s one of three different orchestras which span all the grades in which Springfield Public Schools offers orchestra as a course. The other two, the String Orchestra and the Junior Youth Symphony, act as feeder groups for the main Youth Symphony. The program is referred to as an “honors” or “honorary” program because, says Carla Wooton, “everyone (who is accepted for membership in one of the ensembles) has to pass and audition and to have private lessons. We meet once a week from 6:30 to 9:00pm. And it’s great, because we play the ‘real stuff’—we don’t play watered-down versions or arrangements. My first year, ten years ago, we performed in Carnegie Hall—I conducted on that stage, and it was awesome!”
Wooton says the concert with The Texas Tenors “is all about helping the Youth Symphony and kids in our area who like to get this experience. We want to raise money so we can provide private lessons and instruments, and everything that we need.
All proceeds from ticket sales will go toward the Springfield Youth Symphony program, and JC Fisher wanted us to make sure to mention Palen Music Company, who donated items for a silent auction that will take place during the concert.
Tickets range from $29 to $59, and are available from the Gillioz box office, 863-9491, or at www.gillioztheatre.com. For more information on JC Fisher and The Texas Tenors, visit http://thetexatenors.com.